The work of the Heritage and Tourism Topic Group.
Marple has a fascinating history, and its buildings are set in an attractive and biodiverse landscape. These factors make it a great place to live in. It is important, however, that we identify and make known all of those assets which contribute to our historic environment and natural heritage. Only then can we plan to conserve and enhance what we have. We have an enthusiastic, experienced and hard-working team who can do just that.
Marple’s heritage includes domestic, industrial, farming and ecclesiastical buildings. Their construction dates span at least four centuries. Some are relatively grand, others are more humble, but all form part of Marple’s rich historical record. Fortunately, Marple Civic Society has already done a huge amount of work on Marple’s buildings, the results of which can be seen on the Stockport Council’s Historic Environment Database (SHED). Further assessment is underway to ensure that we have identified our historic environment. Our current work suggests that the Conservation Areas which contain the best of our built heritage may need to be re-assessed and their boundaries redrawn to ensure that all of our historic environment retains its integrity as Marple undergoes change and development to adapt to modern living.
Marple is set in attractive countryside within a tightly drawn green belt. Our natural heritage has also been studied and principal sites identified as “Sites of Biological Importance” These have been mapped and listed and they can be also be found on the SMBC web site. However in this case less detail is available. We felt that it was important to consider these areas in the context of Marple’s Green Infrastructure and to identify the links and green corridors (such as the canal network, the Middlewood Way and the railways) which enhance their value. Accordingly we commissioned Cheshire Wildlife Trust to identify and evaluate our Natural Heritage: their findings are now available as a report (1) which shows in the form of maps and text how we should protect and enhance our natural environment. A need for environmental assessment prior to any developments in sensitive areas is identified.
Tourism implies the need for good access and infrastructure as well as better accommodation, cafes and restaurants. We have identified an urgent need for an information centre. We are also reviewing all those aspects of our heritage which have tourist potential with a view to their enhancement and interpretation. We are now working on a study of our assets as components of a tourist strategy and intend to take this forward as the next part of our work schedule.
We need to carry out research to determine possible visitor numbers and the need for appropriate transport links. We must assess the impact of tourism on Marple’s heritage and obtain the views of Marple residents.
In order to make Marple residents and visitors aware of the attractions of our area we are developing a series of local heritage walks with appropriate interpretation. The first three are now available and are listed below (2,3,4). More are in development. These walks booklets will usually be available at MNP meetings and may be available at Marple Book Shop or at Marple local History Society meetings.
There are obvious interfaces with other topic groups which we must address as the Marple Plan develops.. Sensitive treatment and maintenance of existing and enhanced communication links and well used parts of our open spaces will be needed to conserve our historic environment and biodiversity. We need to involve younger age groups in the community. Undoubtedly Marple’s Heritage could provide material for various school projects.